“What's there to see in Libya??!!” 
A photo journal of our trip to Libya for the Total Solar Eclipse, Mar-Apr, 2006

Journal & photos by John Leeson
email:  jooktoronto@gmail.com


This trip was just the beginning of our involvement with Libya.
See www.libya.jookjoint.ca for more

Click on photos for larger images:

In March 2005 Oksana & I were contemplating travelling to see our fourth total solar eclipse... the eclipse would occur on Mar. 29, 2006.  Turkey looked promising -- we'd always wanted to go there -- but we read that Libya had the best weather prospects, and the longest duration of the eclipse. Libya??


On our past eclipse trips, we always picked somewhere interesting, both to add to the adventure, and as a "just in case" if the eclipse was clouded out. "But Libya?" we asked ourselves, "What's there to see in Libya?"


However, as soon as we started to research Libya, both of us decided that Libya was exactly where we wanted to go.


Over the next year, Libya seemed even more interesting and attractive as we learned more about the country, including its gorgeous and breathtaking Saharan scenery and some of the most impressive Roman ruins anywhere in the world. The few people we met who actually knew the country confirmed our thoughts, and also told us about how wonderful the Libyan people were.


However, in general when we told people about our plans, we got some pretty surprised looks. "Why?" and "Will you be safe?" were the most common reactions. Quite a few people though, agreed that it would be an exciting and fascinating trip.


A year later, after spending just a couple of days in Libya, it was clear to us that this was the best place we could have picked. And in fact, it turned out to be the best and most overwhelming vacation experience we’ve ever had – magnificent and magical. Everything good we had heard and read about Libya actually understated the case.


“What’s there to see in Libya?” I used to repeat that thought to others traveling with us; most of them had had similar thoughts initially. We all found it pretty funny to compare what we thought about Libya originally, with the wonderful experience we were having.


‘What’s there to see in Libya?” This photo-journal tries to capture a bit of it.


(An update: we enjoyed our time so much, we are returning for another visit in March, 2007)!



Our trip in brief:

Click map for a larger image
We spent a total of two weeks in Libya, travelling with a South African tour company (see links page).
  • The first three days were based in Tripoli, primarily visiting the famous Roman cities of Leptis Magna and Sabratha.
  • Then, we flew into the Sahara, south of the town of Jalu in north-east Libya for two days to see the eclipse.
  • One more day in Tripoli, and then we flew to Sabha in Fezzan province in south-west Libya, and spent a week travelling in 4x4's, camping in the desert, going as far as Ghat near the Algerian border.

Click on the headings below to go to the different journal pages:

Arrival in Tripoli... and the answers to some questions:
  • What's Halliburton doing in Libya?
  • How big is a Tripoli elevator?
  • Where can you buy "Twinkle Man" pyjamas?
  • What is the secret connection between Col. Ghadaffi and Jack Benny?
  • Libyans are among the warmest and most genuine people anywhere... but where are the women?
  • Our friend Mostafa
  • Who's the Libyan cowboy?
Roman ruins: Sabratha & Leptis Magna
  • Some of the most impressive Roman ruins anywhere in the world
Tent City: the eclipse site
  • 4 to 5,000 people, from 47 nations camped in the Sahara desert to watch one of nature's wonders
  • Porta-johns, free Wi-Fi, and a midnight concert
  • The only airport with a "sultan's tent" departure lounge

Our "home" is the tent on the left

Eclipse Day:
  • It WAS worth it!

(Photo at left by Brendan Seaton)

Tent City: the story behind it  NEW: Aug. 2006

  • Just how DID this amazing site come about?

  • How did the huge task of planning for thousands of foreign tourists descending on Libya happen?

  • The answer is here, courtesy of a fascinating story by Naser Edeeb of Safari Tourism

On the left: the first meal on the centre line, 2004. Photo by Peter Tiedt


Slow Trip to the Sahara

  • A long wait at Tripoli Airport

  • Be prepared if you travel Libyan Arab Airlines!

The following pages have been added July 23, 2006:
Into the Sahara
  • The beginning of a magnificent week: Leaving towns behind, and into the beautiful Sahara



Sun, sand, water: but no beach holiday here!
  • Obsessed with drinks, and overwhelmed with sand
  • Those gorgeous dunes: where we lived every night




Desert notes
  • Stay away from the Vine of Sodom, unless you have some opium!
  • Pink jets; don't forget your lighter
  • Watch that lamb run!
  • Music, mint tea, desert bread, stupendous rock art, camels, garbage...



  • ...Drop all your work
    Leave it behind
    Forget all your problems
    And get in my car
    And take a drive with me...
  • A week of driving, rattling, bouncing, speeding, climbing dunes, getting stuck, breathing sand... It was great!

(Lyrics by Ray Davies (The Kinks); photo by Bonnie Bird)


Brushes with civilization
  • Towns, drinks, sandstorms
  • The juiciest orange juice & best beer in the Sahara.
  • Putting things into pretty sombre perspective... or just drink the damn Coke and shut up!


Our last days in Libya
  • After a week of sand, we find lakes!
  • Leaving the Sahara means... another night of Libyan Arab Airlines!
  • Final thoughts
  • ... timeshare in Libya?




Links about Libya: (updated Nov. 22/06)

  • Travel information & recommendations, and a selection of links about Libya, news, politics, life, music, books, film etc.

Eclipse Links (updated July /06)

  • Other photos and film about the 2006 eclipse in Libya; eclipse information

  • Aug. 1, 2008: the next Total Solar Eclipse

Photos: (updated July /06)

  • More of my photos, plus photos from several others traveling in our group are posted here.